City Manager

J.J. Murphy, city manager

J.J. Murphy serves as the city manager for Palmdale, California. He has been in public service since graduating from King’s College in 1993. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from King’s College and a Master’s of Public Administration degree from Marywood University.

Murphy was named the 2016 New Mexico City Manager of the Year. His expertise in building quality of life amenities in Hobbs through public and private partnerships was his trademark. The municipal golf course he championed, Rockwind Community Links, received numerous awards including Golf Digest Top 10 New Courses and Golf Inc. Top 5 New Golf Developments in the World for 2016. The Center of Recreational Excellence (CORE) is a $63.5 million dollar recreational center with six public and private partners. He led this project from the beginning with construction commencing in August 2016. This facility is one of the most comprehensive recreational centers and economic development drivers within 500 miles. Coordinating both of these generational projects simultaneously was challenging.

Murphy has been a featured speaker at various national conferences and in multiple print publications. His grasp of creating public/private partnerships with municipal government projects enables communities to fund these projects both short and long-term. He serves on the board of the National Council of Public-Private Partnerships. In 2018, he was named one of Muni Golf’s Top Change Agents in golf for his work delivering Rockwind Community Links.

Murphy served as a major in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, with the majority of his 20 years of service spent managing command and control centers in Africa, Haiti and in the United States at the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.

He has been married to his wife Colleen since 1999 and they have five beautiful daughters. They have resided in the City of Palmdale since they moved here in 2018.

Murphy is an ICMA Credentialed Manager and has completed the Senior Executive Institute at the University of Virginia, the ICMA Gettysburg Leadership Institute, the Harvard Kennedy Schools’ Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program in 2013, Leadership in the 21st Century in 2017, and the Emerging Leaders Program in 2018. After completion of these three Harvard Kennedy School programs, he is one of the very few municipal leaders that have been awarded a certificate in Public Leadership. He believes these courses enhance his ability to identify progressive strategies and solutions to his community’s challenges.

Murphy is a servant leader who brings a collaborative approach to his role as Palmdale’s city manager.

Marie Ricci, Assistant City Manager

Marie Ricci began serving the City as assistant city manager in January 2020.

She came to Palmdale with over 13 years of public service in eight different municipalities and special districts. Just before joining the team in Palmdale, Marie was the assistant chief financial officer for the City of Riverside where she had responsibility over purchasing, business tax, risk management and a $1.1 billion dollar operating and capital budget.

Prior to that role, she held positions as an analyst and program manager, and successfully led the implementation of several organizational initiatives including the development and oversight of strategic plans and performance measures, environmental programs, management and monitoring of preventive maintenance programs and capital improvement projects, new software conversions and upgrades, labor relations management, and development impact studies.

Marie earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California Riverside, a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Public Finance from California State University Fullerton, and a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Geographic Information Systems from the University of Redlands. She lives in Rancho Cucamonga with her husband and three children ages 8, 5, and 1.

MICHAEL "MIKE" BEHEN, DEPUTY CITY MANAGER

Michael “Mike” Behen serves as the City’s Deputy City Manager. Mike was born and raised in the Antelope Valley and has been a City of Palmdale employee for 30-plus years. Mike is well versed in many areas of city government including planning, economic development, traffic/transportation planning, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), administration, and City Council and regional relations. Mike has stepped up on several occasions when key positions became vacant, and leadership was needed. At different times, he has been the City’s acting economic development manager, acting planning manager (twice), and acting economic and community development director (twice). He took on these duties while maintaining regular work assignments associated to his primary position.

Mike is a strong proponent of continuing education. He has an associate degree from Pasadena City College; a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from California State University, Northridge (CSUN);  a master’s degree in public administration from CSUN; and a 24-unit certificate from the University of California, Riverside in GIS. Mike has also completed Caltrans’ Resident Engineers Academy; American Public Works Institute operation and training management program; Commonwealth Centers for High Performance Organizations (HPO) program; and the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service leadership development program.

Mike is heavily involved in a wide range of regional planning matters. He was the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) North Los Angeles County subregional coordinator for over 10 years, and is currently the North County Transportation Coalition (NCTC) staff liaison for Palmdale’s elected officials. He is currently a board director for American Public Works Association (APWA) High Desert Branch, and a member of the Los Angeles Metro technical advisory committee (TAC) and Antelope Valley Edge (AV EDGE) transportation committee.

Mike has one son, who is a video game enthusiast and aspiring inventor.

Mike’s message to all people — Believe in you.